Wasn't invited to YC interview, now what?
Shared by brugeman · 42d ago · 28 comments

Yesterday, I received the sad email that YC is sorry to not invite me. I had to face the reality and think:

Now what?

Specifically, what changed? Turns out, YC wouldn't have changed a thing in my project's trajectory. I don't need money at the moment, I don't need teem members. What I need is... users.

The thought process has led to simple observations (or rather - led back to them):
- my product has to have 10x solution for some problem of some users
- I have to find a way to tell those users about my product, right when they feel the pain

Sounds simple, hard to do. However, the reality of not being good enough for YC forced me to not waste time and work on the hard stuff. Not on the fancy little features I put on the shortterm roadmap.

I selected a couple problems that my product solves 2x better (not 10x, but still). I'm lurking through FB/reddit/LN for the right people, though without luck yet. And I've found a potential 10x solution to an adjacent problem that I could solve, and a lot of users talking about that problem. That's where my development efforts are headed now.

YC didn't invite me, and that forced me to a better path. The reality is harsh, but at least now I'm dealing with it.

Anyone on the same boat?

jameelmatin · 40d ago

I sent them a thank you note and they replied with this

"Wonderful! We'd love to keep in touch with you until the next application cycle as well - feel free to send an update email in a couple of months!"

brugeman · 39d ago

Wow that's a great idea, I am going to copy it )

jameelmatin · 39d ago

Awesome. Glad I could help!

John_CropSafe.io · 40d ago

You're right in what you mentioned above. YC or any other programme shouldn't be a milestone along your journey, but a possible path of many to one of your goals. Focus on the bigger picture and separate paths from goals.

Cherish rejection, learn from it and move on. We were turned down by YC twice before we even got an interview. I think naturally as humans we're wired wrong, where experiences of rejection lead to negative emotions. We need to learn to flip this switch, as I'm sure everyone here agrees that critical feedback and rejection from users carries far much more value than continuous agreement from them. As founders, we need to learn to carry this lesson across to other situations as well.

brugeman · 40d ago

Yeah, totally agree! I think even more broadly we take negative emotions 'too negatively'. Meanwhile, I think that negative feelings are actually a body/brain mechanism to tell us that 'something is wrong', which should lead to some reflection to understand why things are wrong, and then to a solution. Instead we mostly focus on the emotion itself and add fuel to the fire, making it even worse.

jonathanpedoeem · 41d ago

On the same exact boat.

Didnt get invited. dont need the money, really was looking for a community to help push through hard stuff.

That actually got me to push to join this one.

Would love to connect.

AndyDent-Touchgram · 40d ago

YC reject for lots of reasons - they have a massive pile of applications to get through. I got rejected on applying in 2019 with a barely-launched product. A YC graduate I know, who'd recommended me, was unfortunately unable to review my application in time. Looking at it later, he said I was way too detailed - they have an obsession with brevity. (I thought that only applied to the summary section).

So I wouldn't dwell on not being good enough for YC

A year later, I'm still in the same boat, although Pioneer has helped a lot with focusing on where I want to go, unfortunately there's a lot of work to get there.

ardy · 40d ago

I was rejected the first time too. This time I was invited for the interview.
I think they value the persistence. Also, when I compare my two applications, I see my way of thinking of the business and my offering has matured a lot over the last few months. I'm going through a pivot as a result. (it mostly came from talking more to customers and running proper discovery interviews)
I just want to say you shouldn't lose any hope because of this. Just keep at it and try again. If we make it in, great, if not, it doesn't mean much. YC is waaay too competitive for its rejection to mean anything. There are a ton of companies that were rejected by YC many times and are now massively successful.

brugeman · 39d ago

Hi Ardy, great to hear about your progress! Your browseai.com looks like a great idea, can we connect somehow? I have built big web crawlers for seo, maybe we could exchange some ideas. Drop me a line if that sounds useful brugeman.artur@gmail.com

ardy · 39d ago

Sounds good! Emailed ya!

praneethkasula · 41d ago

On the same boat as well! YC would have been nice but that doesn't stop us. In fact, it is forcing me to think for better roadmaps.

brugeman · 39d ago

Yeah totally! Still one never stops dreaming :)

manojranaweera · 41d ago

What does your company do?

brugeman · 40d ago

Recall is an app that makes your files accessible across devices. Connect, say your phone and tablet once, set permissions, and you can list/search/open/download files and folders on connected devices. End-to-end encrypted, fast WiFi is used when possible, private, no ads. Android only for now.

Does this sound useful?

manojranaweera · 40d ago

What specific problem are you trying to solve?

brugeman · 39d ago

Great question!

Some people don't like to upload their stuff to the cloud. Sometimes it's about privacy, sometimes about speed - when you're on the same wifi.

With Recall you can share files without uploading to the cloud.

Does this make more sense now?

Thank you for a great feedback!

manojranaweera · 39d ago

I suppose it does. Not a problem I have though.

taigakobayashi · 30d ago

you are sharing a great story of your road to success. Cheers!

brugeman · 30d ago

Thanks! Good luck with your journey!

louis@cloak.ist · 31d ago

I have a theory that simply applying for YC, regardless of whether or not you get in, is a really smart thing to do for your business.

It forces you to ask the question 'what would YC think about this?'. And since YC are pretty insanely good at helping startups grow, that question is similar to 'how can I best grow my startup?'.

I've now applied around 5 times and interviewed 3 times. Every time, it's forced me to think hard about whether there's a future in what I'm doing.

brugeman · 30d ago

That's so true! It made me take the project so much more seriously, it gets me back to reality from my normal dreamer mindset :)

stormyapp.com · 39d ago

I also got rejected. I don't need the money. I was more looking for a community to learn the intricacies of building something valuable.
Anyway, I will keep on learning and building.

mariolattuga · 40d ago

Revenue > everything else.

If you show traction and revenue, you're chances of getting into an accelerator go up exponentially.

I was also denied by YC. It's really not a big deal. Just press forward. Also, put it into perspective. YC gets tens of thousands of applications. The chances that your company was given the consideration it deserved is unlikely.

Learn to love rejection. Use it as fuel!

Also - would love some feedback on www.Compoundly.com - would be happy to trade beta-testing feedback for other beta-testing feedback.


brugeman · 40d ago

Totally, the chances are actually so low that now it feels ridiculous to have hoped to get in, solo, international, w/o any users :)

Yes, 'be so good they can't ignore you' is the line that comes to mind here. Although the caveat about revenue: they explicitly said that what matters is slope (growth/progress), not absolute revenue/usage numbers.

Compoundly landing looks good and I think I understand what it does. I don't have any investments so can't really try it. One question I have is: how are you going to fix the problem if you find it? What exactly will happen? Future fees will be reduced, or previous charged back, or...? I think more info on the outcome of your analysis would be helpful.

mariolattuga · 40d ago

Thanks for the feedback!

As to YC - my position (wrong or right) is focusing on getting users to pay me for my product/service. If you can get users to pay you, the rest falls in line (at least at the pre-seed/seed stage).

If you can say - "hey, we have paying users, and our user growth is growing by [insert a reasonable number]% week over week" you are in the 1% of startups at this stage.

Also regarding YC. Although I've heard them say that they do, indeed, fund solos. Realistically, solos make up a tiny fraction of funded companies. Founding a company is the hardest thing you'll ever do. Investors know that. They prefer 3 co-founders (hacker, hustler, hipster/visionary). This does NOT mean you have to go give away 2/3 of your company. You have lots of options.

Additionally, I think the focus should be on building a sustainable, profitable company rather than obsessing over raising capital.

At base, your company has a life. That life must be sustained with cash. Cash comes in two forms: (1) cash from customers, (2) cash from investors. Focus on #1.

Turning to my landing page I truly appreciate the feedback. We are currently in the process of revamping it to better articulate our value proposition. I'd love to follow-up once we do so!

P.s. we are currently offering a $200 referral fee. It's super simple: (1) Share compoundly with other investors; (2) they sign up and qualify for compoundly; and (3) when they qualify, we'll send you $200.

brugeman · 39d ago

Cool, drop me a line when you need any feedback brugeman.artur@gmail.com

AndyDent-Touchgram · 40d ago

solo, international, w/o any users :)